Signs of the times: Brunswick artist recycles election posters

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BRUNSWICK — Artist Roland Ricard started experimenting when he saw leftover campaign signs along local roads.

“My goal,” he said, “was to try to reclaim these signs. They could be anything – signs for trails, parties, or playgrounds. You can even take off the wire frame and hang them inside on your wall.”

He starts by putting a couple of layers of thick acrylic paint over the surface in order to smooth them out. Then, he uses regular acrylic paints to paint whatever he chooses. A couple of acrylic gloss coats on top of that and they are sealed up and ready for use indoors or out.

Ricard has been an artist for many years, starting with lessons from a local sign painter at age 12. His mom and dad owned a diner in Mendon, Massachusetts, where he grew up, and a guy who painted the Coca-Cola signs in town came in often for dinner.

Soon Ricard was taking lessons from him on lettering and sign painting. Later, he took classes at the Rhode Island School of Design, going on to work as a technical illustrator and then an account specialist at Xerox. But he always loved to paint more than just signs.

Ricard has painted everything from mailboxes to recycling bins and decorative stones. His studio is adorned with pictures of flowers, birds, landscapes, and even portraits.

One striking portrait is of a Native American man. “That’s an Iroquois faith keeper,” Ricard said. “He speaks all over the world about protecting the earth. I try to do artwork that will tell a story. By doing portraits of people like this, it shows that there are people out there trying to save the earth.”

Ricard’s great-grandfather was Iroquois and he has donated his art to the tribe’s auctions to help them raise money for their work.

So what does he charge for his political-signs-turned-art? Ricard’s passion is for the environment and he just wants to see the signs turn into something positive.

He and his wife moved to Maine 5 1/2 years ago, when they retired, and are eager to connect with local organizations that might have a project in mind for his art.

And even if you don’t have a project, he said he’d love to have your leftover signs. He can be reached at rjricard1@comcast.net.

Harpswell artist Roland Ricard turns discarded campaign signs into art.

Before, left, and after Ricard works on a campaign sign.

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